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7 Foods That Make Inflammation Worse
Like most things in the body, the inflammatory process is all about balance. A balanced inflammatory response helps recruit your immune system to attack invaders and repair damage.
Inflammatory markers and proteins are your body’s way of sounding the alarm for help. If you have a highly stimulated inflammatory response, things like excessive swelling and inflammation can occur. Inversely, if someone has a poorly reactive inflammatory response, they may be more at risk of developing infections since their body isn’t rallying the immune system troops to the rescue.
Chronic inflammation contributes to nearly every chronic disease – heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, and even cancer. Not to mention, chronic inflammation can lead to chronic pain caused by arthritis. By reducing and limiting factors contributing to inflammation can lead to reduced pain and reduce your risk for developing chronic disease later in life.
So, where to start?
Chronic Inflammation Caused by Diet
There are many things that can impact inflammation in your body with one of the main factors being your diet. Certain foods can cause inflammation and others can help reduce inflammation. Hopefully, our list helps you get a better understanding of foods that cause inflammation and things you can do to help reduce inflammation.
Although sugary sweets and drinks taste good, they’re doing very little good for your body. Consuming high amounts of sugar in your diet can lead to an increased risk of inflammation and chronic disease.
And this doesn’t just mean cookies and candy, other products that have sneaky amounts of added sugar include granola, certain salad dressings, and bread.
Studies have shown when people have a high sugar diet, different biomarkers that are used to measure chronic inflammation are increased. These biomarkers include cholesterol levels and C-reactive protein. By simply reducing your sugar intake (or doing your best to eliminate added sugars completely)– you can take a big step towards reducing overall inflammation and reducing your risk of developing chronic disease down the road.
2. Refined Grains (or Refined Carbohydrates)
Similar to sugar, refined grains and carbohydrates are broken down into sugars quickly into your bloodstream. They then cause an elevation in blood sugar and your body has to work to remove the excess sugar. This effort stimulates inflammation, so if you’re eating refined carbs throughout the day, your body is in a constant state of inflammation working to balance your blood sugar levels.
Additionally, refined carbs have a high-glycemic-index. They are considered an ‘advanced glycation end’ product, or AGEs, which are known to promote oxidative stress and inflammation.
3. Hydrogenated Vegetable oils
Hydrogenated vegetable oils are known to promote an inflammatory state, especially in your blood vessels. Examples of hydrogenated vegetable oils include canola, safflower, soybean, corn, and cottonseed. Many of these oils are populated in processed foods and frozen foods but can also be found in creamers, salad dressings, and fast foods.
Trans fats are a term used to describe the process of partial hydrogenation. This means the oil is altered so it can maintain a solid-state at room temperature. Examples of trans fats include shortening and margarine. Trans fats have traditionally been used to change the texture or consistency of the oil and add to the oil’s shelf life.
Trans fats have been shown to increase your risk of coronary heart disease and experts recommend avoiding trans fats altogether. Trans fats contribute to inflammation by increasing the ‘bad’ cholesterol, LDL, and lowering the ‘good’ cholesterol, HDL.
5. Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Sticking to the theme of specific fats – omega-6 fatty acids are vital for normal growth and development, and they also contribute to the inflammatory balance in your body. But, if there is an imbalance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, a pro-inflammatory response can occur.
Examples of omega-6 rich food include canola oil, corn oil, mayonnaise, and peanut oil. Reducing your omega-6 fatty acid intake can help reduce inflammation, but also increasing your omega-3s can help. Eating foods like salmon or taking a krill oil supplement are both high in omega-3s to help restore balance.
6. Conventional Dairy
Purchasing homogenized and pasteurized cow’s milk from the grocery store means any good bacteria and enzymes are removed. It also most likely means the cow has been given antibiotics and hormones which can make their way to your milk carton.
In addition to these unwanted additives, many people have allergies or intolerances when it comes to dairy. When this allergy or sensitivity is triggered, this causes inflammation in the body that can lead to chronic inflammation over time.
Nightshades are a group of foods in the Solanecease family and include staples like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, goji berries, bell peppers, hot peppers. Some people tolerate nightshades without issue, but if you’re struggling with symptoms of chronic inflammation, cutting nightshades out for a while (2-3 months) might be a good idea.
Nightshades contain properties that inhibit the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. If you build up an excess of acetylcholine, your muscles and joints can feel achy and stiff. People with arthritis, reflux, and autoimmune disorders can see substantial improvement in their pain and a reduction in their symptoms if they cut out nightshades from their diet.
Anti-inflammatory Benefits of Turmeric
We’ve covered several foods that cause inflammation, but there are also foods and spices that can help reduce inflammation. Turmeric, for example, is a spice with many proven anti-inflammatory benefits.
Turmeric is a spice best known for its role in making Indian food extra delicious. Turmeric has a yellow-gold color thanks to its active ingredient curcumin and has also been used as a dye for textiles, and for its health benefits. The real benefit of turmeric comes from the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin.
Curcumin is a natural free-radical scavenger – meaning it seeks out harmful substances in the body that can cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress often leads to inflammation, therefore reducing them can reduce or prevent inflammation.
Curcumin is non-toxic as well.
There have been numerous proven benefits of the curcumin found in turmeric. Curcumin has been found to have the following properties:
Thanks to these benefits, turmeric has the potential to assist in the management of many diseases including diabetes, allergies, arthritis, and other chronic illnesses.
Many studies have shown the ability of curcumin to reduce acute and chronic inflammation. Curcumin can help treat current inflammation as well as serve as a protector against future inflammation. This means supplementing with turmeric can help treat current problems and pain related to inflammation and reduce your risk of further inflammatory problems.
Curcumin can also help reduce pain (especially when it’s caused by inflammation). Your body contains an enzyme that triggers a pain response and helps assist in healing and repairing cells and tissue. This enzyme is COX-2 and you may have heard certain over the counter pain medications referred to as ‘COX-2 inhibitors’ like aspirin and Tylenol.
By inhibiting COX-2, inflammation is reduced and pain is hopefully relieved. Curcumin found in turmeric has been found to be a natural COX-2 inhibitor and in fact, directly inhibits the activity of COX-2.
The Bottom Line
There are several foods that can have a negative impact on the body. From sugar and refined grains to trans fat and toxic oils, these all signal an inflammatory response in the body.
And turmeric, an ancient spice that some now call "Nature's Tylenol", is one of the best natural ways to combat this. With it's potent dose of curcumin, it helps alleviate current inflammation, while protecting against future inflammation.
That said, one of the most important things you can do for your health is educate yourself on how the foods you eat can impact your mind and body. Unhealthy foods don't need to have the final say in how you look and feel.
Learn more about NativePath Daily Turmeric here!
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.